CHUCK LYONS, the life of the party

CHUCK LYONS, the life of the party


Ventriloquist Chuck Lyons happily spends his semi-retirement performing.

“I truly love this art, and enjoyed many benefits from it. The people I’ve met, lifelong friendships I’ve made, but most of all smiles I’ve been able to give to my audiences. It is truly been a journey of love.”

Born in 1956 in Channahon Illinois, and immersed in children’s programming and puppetry early via television and his mother taking him to see the Cole Marionettes.

At age 7 he received a Danny O’Day figure and Jimmy Nelson’s Learn Ventriloquism album. Chuck practiced daily.

At age 12 his father took him to a Lions Club dinner where he saw Danny Ford perform. Afterwards, Mr Ford told him of the Maher course and how to find a professional figure from Finis, a maker of ventriloquist dummies. Chuck names Danny Ford as his first mentor.

Taking the Maher correspondence course, by age 16 Church earned enough doing shows to buy his first professional dummy. Chuck still owns the Finis figure named Larry the Second.

Chuck eagerly awaited the monthly Newsy Vents, beloved newsletter that it was, and longed to attend the ConVENTion.

Chuck gained his second mentor when he met Clinton Detweiler at a Fellowship of Christian Magicians Convention.

Attending Blackburn College in Carlinville, Illinois, Chuck earned a BA in Theater and Public Speaking. This was a wonderful time of honing his skills as a Ventriloquist, and writing, producing and performing stage shows for college credit.

 Upon graduation, Chuck performed at any event to showcase his art and support his young family.

 Working for Robotronics, Chuck sold robots and educational materials to fire, EMS, and police departments country wide. He introduced the use of magic and puppetry to spread fire and police safety education to children, often using his ventriloquist skills.

Chuck spent 20 years as a Fire Prevention Officer, using ventriloquism to spread the message of fire safety with his local fire department, and winning several awards for his excellent work.

Leaving marketing, Chuck returned to college and became a licensed embalmer and funeral director and in 2013 attended his first ConVENTion.

At the ConVENTion he met Jimmy Nelson, Mark Wade, Ken Groves, and Tom Crowl, and many many other ventriloquists he had admired for many years and he gained lifelong friends.

The sale of the funeral home where he worked propelled him into semi- retirement and back into his beloved ventriloquism.


This article was written by I.V.S. Member and contributor Ann Seeton.

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15 Things I Love About Ventriloquism

15 Things I Love About Ventriloquism

I was challenged to write 15 things I love about ventriloquism. So, here is my list!

1. Ventriloquism is fun.

Anyone who does it can attest to that!

2. Ventriloquism is a challenge.

To perform ventriloquism correctly is challenging.

I remember the countless hours I spent practicing the labials, puppet movement and routines. And that was just yesterday …

Every day it is a challenge to maintain my skills.

3. Ventriloquism makes me think.

I get to exercise my brain.

  • I think of ways to split or separate myself from the character.
  • I think about comedy material.
  • I need to remember voices, scripts and lines.
  • And so much more …

4. Ventriloquism has an amazing community.

Some of my best friends are ventriloquists.

I get to interact with vents from around the world.

Other than the few odd balls that are in any artform, ventriloquists are kind, friendly and all around great folks!

5. Ventriloquism makes me laugh.

When I get to talk to other ventriloquists, I usually end up laughing.

When I do shows, I usually laugh right along with the audience. Laughter is infectous.

6. Ventriloquism allows me to get paid for doing what I love.

Doing shows puts food on my table and money in my bank account.

In today’s world, so many people just exist.

It is wonderful to have a passion I have managed to turn into a career.

7. People appreciate me.

Very few jobs exist where, when finished, people will stand up and applaud you.

Or come over and tell you how amazing you are.

The audiences appreciate the feeling I give them onstage. Just as I am sure your audiences appreciate you.

8. Clients appreciate me.

When the audience is happy, the client is usually happy.

There is nothing like doing a job and getting an amazing reference quote (and a nice check) from your client. (Except for when they actually reach out to their collegues about hiring you.)

9. Ventriloquism is popular.

Right now we are riding a wave of popularity thanks to artists like Darci Lynne, Terry Fator & Jeff Dunham.

By keeping ventriloquism in the public eye, it is a boost for all of us.

10. Ventriloquism allows me to be creative.

From designing a character to creating materials and building shows, being creative is one of my favorite things.

It is an adrenaline rush when you are creating something from nothing!

11. Ventriloquism allows me to play.

I can watch cartoons to come up with ideas for voices.

I can play with my puppets.

I can act goofy to spur my creativity.

12. Ventriloquism allows me to travel.

Although I sometimes get sick of being on the road, ventriloquism has taken me some pretty amazing places.

Sure, I see a lot of airports, hotel rooms and banquet rooms, but I still get to enjoy places when I can.

Plus the funds I earn from performing allow me to go places when I am not!

13. Ventriloquism is educational.

I love to learn. Maybe that goes with making me think, which I listed above, but I am constantly learning new things about this art.

Creating the Ventriloquist Hall of Fame taught me a lot about those masters.

Everytime I crack open the Maher Course of Ventriloquism I pick up a nugget of knowledge I missed, or had forgotten.

The I.V.S. has been as educational for me too. (And I hope you are a member and it will be on your list too!)

14. Ventriloquism offers opportunities.

I’ve had the blessing of working with some major stars and I’ve gotten to know some incredible people. All because I happen to play with a puppet.

15. Ventriloquism offered me a chance to be a part of something bigger.

I had no clue when I walked into my first Vent Haven ConVENTion that one day I would be one of Mark Wade’s trusted advisors.

Today, Mark bounces ideas off of me and we talk about the conVENTion almost daily.

The conVENTion is the marquee event of the ventriloquism world. It raises funds to help cover costs of operating the Vent Haven Museum.

And it touches the lives and careers of so many in the art.

Even though I am just one small cog in the wheel, I am proud to be a part of this amazing part of ventriloquism’s history.

So there you have it, 15 Things I Love About Ventriloquism.

What are the things you love about ventriloquism?

Let me know in the comments below!

Polyphony, Imitations & Sound Effects

Polyphony, Imitations & Sound Effects

At one time, polyphony, imitations and sound effects were closely associated with the art of ventriloquism.

No doubt because like ventriloquism, they were an illusion of the voice. In fact, distant ventriloquism is a cross of imitation and sound effect.

Many entertainers lumped the three together under polyphony, but according to the official definition, that is not correct usage.

The Maher Course of Ventriloquism, Lesson 25, touched briefly upon this subject. It is worthy of a read, although the art truly needs a more indepth study.

I was first exposed to this art (and done properly, it is an art) in the late 1990’s. I was hired as a magician to work a banquet with two other acts: Ventriloquist Jim Teeter and Wes Harrison, known as Mr. Sound Effects.

Wes had appeared on every major talk and variety show on television. Both in the U.S. and overseas. His comedy act played the famous Crazy Horse Saloon in Paris. He even created sound effects for movies.

All using only his voice.

Wes had a hilarious act. He told stories with sound effects. I’m happy to be able to share some of these – take your time to listen/watch. You will be glad you did.

In 1984, the movie Police Academy featured comedian Michael Winslow who was also a master of the sound effect.

Winslow went on to have a successful career, appearing in all 7 Police Academy films, other movies, television and touring comedy clubs.

Today, you seldom see entertainers performing sound effects. Although a close relative is the Beatbox musician.

In the ventriloquism community, Philip Jones and Gary Owen are two of the only sound effects guys I know about.

Occasionally the Vent Haven ConVENTion would host a lecture on this topic, but it has been a few years. I’m not familiar with any other ways to learn, other than listen and mimic.

With the rarity of seeing this, it may be worthy of study by someone looking for a unique angle to their act.

Just a thought …

Do you do sound effects? Do you know a way to learn? Share your insights in the comments below: